MTG Deck Building Fundamentals

This post is meant to be a small primer for new MTG players that I encounter.  It is by no means comprehensive, but it is adequate enough to get you started. 

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  • Of course the minimum is 60 cards; and the maximum is as many as can be shuffled without assistance. 
  • Aim for a 3:2 spell:land ratio; eg: a 60 card deck should contain 36 spells and 24 lands. 100/60/40. Vary the ratio only if the deck allows; ie less lands if lots of card draw or mana weenies
  • Pack 4 of any buildaround spells. (ie: spells you really like that you want to make a deck for)
  • Deck must be synergistic. ie: you don’t want to pack Illness in the Ranks in your BW Spirit token deck. You do want Lingering Souls and Intangible Virtue and white instant spells with convoke
  • Unless you are specifically building a “toolbox” deck, you don’t want to dilute your deck by packing too many answers.
  • You do want spells that offer flexibility though: Trading Post, the Charms, or two-in-ones like “destroy target artifact then gain life equal to its CMC” or “this spell does something, then draw a card”
  • If you’ve built a deck around a spell that is extremely critical to its strategy, pack ways to tutor and/or recur it.  Eg: Life from the Loam in a dredge deck. 
  • Pack answers to common threats in your group’s metagame.  Eg: Lots of mill?  Pack Feldon’s Cane and Elixir of Immortality.  Lots of red burn?  Pack things to make yourself and your creatures hexproof.
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